Reviewed by Shannon Hopkins

Do you ever feel as if the world around you is moving too quickly, that you are drowning in a constant stream of stimuli, that you have forgotten what it means to be you?

In Fast Media, Media Fast, Dr. Thomas Cooper discusses the increasing speed and saturation of media of all forms in the world, and establishes a framework for taking a “media fast” – for divorcing yourself temporarily from all of the outside noise in order to rediscover the individual within.

The book is divided into four parts: Part 1 discusses the how and why of a media fast; Part 2 is an indictment against fast media, charging that fast media damages every aspect of our physical, emotional, and environmental well-being; Part 3 highlights group fasting and cultural groups who are continuously separated from media; and Part 4 highlights the “Ultimate Choice” between speeding up and slowing down. This division is convenient for those who simply want to try a media fast, allowing consumption of only those sections that are relevant to their goals.

Cooper outlines several methods, potential purposes, and goals for those intent on a media fast. He also encourages personal observation of feelings and trends before, during, and after a fast, the better to evaluate the effects of the fast on one’s approach to consuming or creating media. Two appendices provide even more detail on the ways one can successfully fast.

While his perspectives are compelling, reading past Part 1 is difficult due to Cooper’s stream-of-consciousness writing style. Many points are reiterated, and there is little organization of his thoughts beyond the chapter headings. There are also several editorial issues: extra or missing words make sentences awkward; punctuation errors are jarring to one’s concentration; and in two separate chapters he misspells the names of different countries (Colombia and Kiribati, the latter being correctly spelled in the preceding and following paragraphs).

Cooper notes that “…I had originally intended this to be three books: one for the general public, one for teachers leading classes on media fasts, and a third for their students.” (p. 111); despite his justifications for consolidation, a two-or three-part book series would have made this a more coherent and enjoyable read. I will use Cooper’s suggestions for taking my own media fast, but otherwise Fast Media, Media Fast is merely another contributor to the media overload against which Cooper rails.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Shannon lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her fianc é and a room full of books that she peruses when she isn’t trolling Apartment Therapy for new decorating ideas. In her free time she enjoys maintaining her blog, The Writer’s Closet, planning her wedding, and baking tasty gluten-free treats.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Newman Communications. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.